DEARBORN, Mich. – A small community gathered Saturday for a candlelight vigil as they formally said goodbye to a loved one — their grocery store.
Yep, you read that right. The Dearborn, Michigan, Kroger, affectionally called Kroger Jack, was incredibly special to much of the community.
Kroger built a newer version directly across the street about a decade ago, but the older (much loved) one remained open, as well — until now.
After the company decided to close Kroger Jack down, residents in the area responded with sadness, saying that the store was a place they truly loved, a place that was engrained as part of the community.
WDIV-TV in Detroit reported that those who are sad to see the store go see the vigil as a fitting parting event.
In fact, a Facebook event created especially for the vigil had more than 500 people either interested or planning on attending the event as of Saturday.
“Come bring a candle, a good memory, and your Kroger card,” a posting on the event page says. “We’ll watch Kroger close while playing some sad songs.”
The event, which lasted about 15 minutes, drew about 100 people. There was a moment of silence, a singing quartet and a few misty eyes.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell was even in attendance and spoke for a few moments on her memory of the store (watch video below). She got choked up because, she said, shopping at Kroger Jack reminded her of her recently deceased husband, John Dingell, who was the longest-serving congressman in American history.
Others reminisced about all their shared experiences, from bumping into their neighbors in the aisles while getting birthday cakes and sipping coffee to the local high school jazz band playing in the bakery section for a fundraiser.
Though some might chuckle at the idea of a candlelight vigil for a closing grocery store, the matter was not a joking one to many. It was a special gathering place.
"There’s nothing wrong with a candlelight vigil. It’s a show of respect," said Mason Christensen, an archivist with the Dearborn Historical Museum. "Here in Dearborn, grocery stores are about as much of a community space as we have."
Those in attendance bid their final farewell on a lighthearted note, cheering each of the employees -- baggers, cashiers, department managers and more.